CHAPTER TWO - THE GERMANS ARRIVE

On the morning of June 10, units of the III Kompanie of 4.SS Reg., "Der Führer," entered the village. Villagers found this very curious because Germans had seldom been seen here during the occupation. At this point none of the villagers was alarmed, just curious as to why the Germans had decided to come to Oradour that day. Many people calmly watched from their doorsteps as the armored cars and lorries entered the village. Very few people thought of running away considering the village was surrounded both by vehicles and lines of soldiers.

Then came the sound of the village drum which signalled for the inhabitants to gather in an area of Oradour known as the "Village Green". Roger GodfrinThe villagers went leisurely at first, but patrols soon started to comb the streets and to gather the remaining villagers. While the soldiers were gathering the children, Roger Godfrin - a refugee from Lorraine, dashed into the garden and was the only one of 247 children to escape the impending doom. The entire population was gathered in the Village Green, and a rumour began that the Germans were there to check their identity cards, which seemed strange to most people.

Soon after the villagers arrived they were divided into two groups, women and children on one side, and men on the other. The fear in the inhabitants of Oradour started to grow. Soon the women and children were lead off to the church, which calmed the fears of some of the women who were certain nothing dreadful could happen to them in the house of God. After the women were secluded in the Church, the German officer in command, demanded hostages before making a thorough search of the village. The mayor of Oradour, Dr. Paul Desourteaux, came forward and offered himself and his four sons. While the search of the village was conducted, five young men and a girl cycling through the village were immediately seized and would suffer the same fate as the rest.

After the return of the soldiers from searching the village, and being fairly confident that no civilians were unaccounted for, further divided the men into several smaller groups. They were led into three barns, two garages, a warehouse and a hangar, and the ordeal began.




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